Strasbourg judges are on the brink of backing down over the blocking orders that stopped Rwanda removal flights.
Suella Braverman revealed last night she had been ‘encouraged’ by discussions with the European Court of Human Rights, raising hopes of reviving the policy.
Sources said the talks could ‘remove a key barrier to getting flights off the ground’ and finally see boat migrants sent to the east African nation.
The Home Office‘s inaugural flight to Rwanda was blocked at the 11th hour by Strasbourg judges who issued an injunction, known as a ‘Rule 39’ order.
The Government’s Illegal Migration Bill sets out plans to allow ministers to ignore Rule 39 measures – unless Strasbourg agrees to rein in their use.
Laughter: Suella Braverman shares a joke with her two guides following discussions with the European Court of Human Rights
Sources said the talks could ‘remove a key barrier to getting flights off the ground’ and finally see boat migrants sent to the east African nation Pictured: The European Court of Human Rights building
Home Secretary Mrs Braverman claimed the court’s decision last summer had been opaque and flawed, adding: ‘That’s why we have measures in our Bill that will address how the UK intends to comply with such orders in the future. But I’ve been encouraged by the Government’s constructive discussions with Strasbourg, including around possible reforms to Rule 39.’
Meetings between UK officials and the court are understood to have taken place since the publication of the Illegal
Migration Bill 13 days ago. The Bill is designed to tackle the small boats crisis that last year led to a record 45,756 migrants landing in the UK. This year’s total is 3,562, compared with 3,231 at the same point last year.
But Home Office projections suggest 85,000 might make the crossing in the worst-case scenario by the year’s end.
The talks with Strasbourg could lead to a new framework being agreed on the use of Rule 39 orders.
The UK is likely to demand the introduction of a high legal threshold on whether they can be issued in the first place. Even if that test is met, there should be an opportunity for government lawyers to seek a full court hearing, sources said.
Speaking on the second day of an official visit to the Rwandan capital Kigali, Mrs Braverman dismissed critics of the asylum scheme as ‘snobs’ guilty of ‘unjustified and unwarranted negativity’ about the country. She insisted Rwanda would prove a ‘blessing’ to migrants relocated under the £140million scheme, describing the country as a ‘beacon of hope for refugees’.
The Mail on Sunday reported yesterday that Mrs Braverman was planning to get deportation flights under way by the summer after signing a deal to close a series of loopholes.
Deal: Suella Braverman with leader of Rwanda Paul Kagame yesterday
She said there was ‘every possibility we can move quickly’ if the UK Court of Appeal upheld the scheme’s legality.
Flights could take off even if opponents lodge a further appeal to the Supreme Court, it is understood. If Strasbourg agrees not to interfere with further Rule 39 orders it would mean the legal barriers have been eliminated.
Mrs Braverman yesterday took part in a Kigali ground-breaking ceremony for homes that will be used by migrants.
They will be placed in the 528-unit development of one, two and three-bedroom homes, living alongside Rwandan locals. The site is due to be completed within just six months.
On Saturday the Home Secretary visited another development of ‘eco’ homes boasting solar panels and also set to be occupied by UK migrants.
Flights could take off even if opponents lodge a further appeal to the Supreme Court, it is understood
Both projects are being part-funded by British taxpayers.
Paul Kagame, Rwanda’s president, told Mrs Braverman yesterday that his country would ‘always have capacity’ for more refugees. He welcomed the agreement between the two countries and the expansion of its scope, which was finalised at the weekend.
Cabinet Office minister Oliver Dowden yesterday told Sky News: ‘The reason why we haven’t been able to proceed with Rwanda is because it’s currently before the courts. We actually succeeded at the High Court stage, it’s before the Court of Appeal. But as soon as that process is through – and I’m confident our policy is lawful – we will get cracking.’
The migration Bill will see small boat migrants detained with no rights for bail or judicial review within the first 28 days.
All asylum claims lodged by irregular migrants – such as those who come across the Channel – will be ruled inadmissible as soon as they arrive. Ministers have set out a plan to then rapidly remove them to Rwanda or another safe country. Wide-ranging restrictions will be placed on the way UK courts can hear appeals and judicial reviews in immigration cases.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman tours a building site on the outskirts of Kigali during her visit to Rwanda
Government ministers have long complained that attempts to remove foreign nationals face endless legal challenges.
Under the reforms, the vast majority of migrants will be required to lodge appeals ‘remotely’ from abroad, rather than in the UK. Only children and the gravely ill will be able to stay here while making challenges.
Modern slavery claims by illegal entrants will be disqualified on ‘public order’ grounds.
When asked if it was possible to stop the boats, Miguel Berger, Germany’s ambassador to the UK, told Sky News: ‘It’s very difficult to say if it will be possible but I agree that it’s a wider problem, it’s not only what’s happening in the Channel.
‘We have to look at migration routes from Libya, Turkey, Tunisia, from many other countries, we have climate change which is producing more refugees, so in the end what we will need is strong international co-operation.’